3-star M-LB, Class of 2002
Played for: Minnesota Vikings
Man-for-man, the Longhorns' 2002 recruiting class was the best class Mack Brown ever brought to Texas.
Ranked #1 in the nation by most news outlets, the class featured top-ranked heavyweights at every position. There was 5-star recruit Rodrique Wright, a monstrous defensive tackle out of the town of Alief who was given a perfect 5.0 rating by Rivals.com. Joining him in the defensive class was 5-star cornerback Edorian McCullough, a standout athlete with a blazing 4.3 second 40-yard dash. Along with fellow 5-star recruits Justin Blalock (offensive lineman) and Vince Young, they headlined a class that would lead the 'Horns to two Rose Bowl titles, a conference championship, and a crystal trophy.
Seemingly lost in the shuffle was Brian Robison, an All-State linebacker from Splendora High School. During his high school career, Robison played several sports, including basketball, baseball, and track & field. Rivals.com rated Robison as a 3-star middle linebacker, and OrangeBloods.com had this to say about the young footballer:
"Although Splendora, Texas linebacker Brian Robison isn't one of the more highly rated players in the Texas Longhorn 2002 recruiting class, that doesn't mean that he doesn't have high expectations for himself."
High expectations, indeed.
From the start, Brian Robison impressed his coaches and fellow players at the 40 Acres. After redshirting the 2002 season, Robison was able to play in all 13 games during the 2003 season. As a backup middle linebacker to 4-star recruit Aaron Harris, Robison racked up 38 combined and 22 solo tackes, as well as blocking four field goal kicks - a school record. However, Texas had found a potent linebacker duo in Harris and junior standout Derrick Johnson, leaving Robison on the outside looking in. Fighting for playing time behind two blue-chip recruits was always going to be difficult, and with the situation as it was, Robison's status as backup middle linebacker was seemingly set in stone.
However, fate had something else in store for Robison. One of the biggest pickups of the 2002 class was 5-star recruit Bryan Pickryl, a lanky defensive end from Oklahoma. An immensely talented player, Pickryl immediately took over the weak-side defensive end position as a true freshman, racking up 4.5 sacks in his first five games. However, Pickryl had suffered a series of shoulder injuries in high school, and in the second game of the 2003 season, cursed fate struck - Pickryl dislocated his left shoulder, suffering a posterior labrum tear. After two months of rehabilitation and a talk with Mack Brown, Pickryl decided to quit football for good.
Into the void, Robison was thrust. During the 2004 season, Brian started all 12 games at right defensive end. The movie brought immediate dividends for Robison, who racked up 48 combined and 27 solo tackles, on his way to earning an honorable mention on the Associated Press All Big-12 Conference team. And in his junior and senior seasons, Robison blossomed into one of Texas' most feared defenders. He was twice named First-team All-Big 12 Conference by the Austin-American Statesman, and recorded 13 total sacks over his last two years at Texas. Perhaps his biggest moment as a Longhorn occurred on the biggest stage possible - he tackled USC running back LenDale White on that infamous 4th-and-2 rush up the middle, allowing Texas QB Vince Young to lead the 'Horns to national title glory.
When all was said and done, Robison joined six fellow Longhorns in the 2007 NFL Draft. In the 4th round, he went to the Minnesota Vikings, and immediately started at the defensive end position - a position he still plays to this day. In his breakout 2011 season, he recorded a career-high 44 tackles, 8 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles, while lining up opposite fellow standout defensive end Jared Allen.
Not bad from a 3-star linebacker and track athlete out of Splendora, Texas.